UK business immigration: What can businesses expect under a Labour government?

The Labour government’s immigration policy proposes to reform the UK points-based immigration system by creating a “fair and properly managed immigration system” which addresses skills shortages and ensures proper renumeration for workers.

Reduction of net migration

The Labour government would like levels of net migration to fall but have not set a specific target for this. They plan to boost Britain’s skills by identifying and tackling shortages within the country, rather than placing reliance on overseas workers to fill skills gaps on a long-term basis. Sectors facing skills gaps will receive targeted attention.

Reforming the Points-Based System

The government intend to instruct the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to work with other government agencies to deliver the necessary skills for growth, prioritising sectors aligned with the industrial strategy. Government departments and employers in sectors applying for high numbers of Skilled Worker visas would be required to draw up "skills improvement plans" to train UK-based workers.

Related to this, the government is reportedly considering reintroducing the ‘resident labour market test’, which requires employers to show they have tried to recruit in UK before hiring from overseas. The party state that they will exclude employers from hiring employees from abroad if the visa system is not properly followed and/or is abused. The government has also said it would revoke sponsor licences from employers which do not comply with the rules.

The government has said that it would ask the MAC to review the impact of raising the Skilled Worker salary threshold from £26,200 to £38,700.

Care Workers

The government has said that it would conduct an investigation into the treatment of migrant workers. Yvette Cooper has highlighted concerns of “…people being unfairly charged thousands of pounds by agencies and employers who are profiting from overseas recruitment …. There must be a full investigation into these reports to ensure standards are upheld, and exploitative employers are prosecuted.”

The government have confirmed that the ban on dependants of care workers would be retained.

In summary, UK businesses can expect a reformed points-based immigration system with more significant changes in the long-term.

To summarise, the government's strategy on immigration is designed to mitigate the skill gaps in the UK by developing domestic talent and reducing dependency on overseas workers. The approach is geared towards creating an independent workforce, although it is recognised that realising the full advantages of this policy could span several years. Concurrently, the possible revival of the 'resident labour market test' could complicate the hiring process for employers, introducing further delays and administrative tasks.

For more information regarding the contents of this article, please contact Iram Noordin or Shradha Virji.

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The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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